Is it just us or did everyone suddenly become ok with talking about poop? Honestly, we’ve always been on board with that. After all, regular elimination is key for everything from removing waste from the body to banishing bloat. Luckily there’s a lot we can do to support regularity, like putting healthy whole foods on our plate. The key is to consume adequate amounts of fiber. Quick refresher: there are two types of fiber—soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber is best known for its ability to bind with glucose (or sugar) in the gut and slow down its absorption into the blood. Soluble fiber also binds with cholesterol, helping to carry it out of the body. When it comes to bowel movements, or BMs, soluble fiber-rich foods help to thicken the stool. Translation: these foods are extra important if you’re dealing with diarrhea.
Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, is known to speed things up in the GI tract. Basically, it’s your BFF if constipation is your primary concern. Any plant food that contains fiber will naturally contain a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The only difference is that some have a greater proportion of soluble to insoluble, or vice versa.
Just remember: both types of fiber are important for health and plant foods will naturally contain a mixture of the two, so as long as you’re eating your fruits and veggies (and nuts and beans and whole grains and water), you’re golden.
When it comes to fats, striking a balance is key for healthy digestion. That is, a diet packed with unhealthy fats can contribute to slowed digestion, bringing on bloat and constipation. Plus, foods high in the types of fats we want to limit (think: bacon, processed cheeses, packaged snacks) typically don’t contain any fiber. Putting too little fat on your plate is also not a good idea, since nutrient dense fats like nuts, seeds and avocado are naturally loaded with gut-friendly fiber. Healthy fats are also critical for everything from maintaining hormone health to fighting inflammation and lowering heart disease risk, so it’s essential to include them in the diet.
And don’t forget about water. Adequate hydration (psst go pour yourself a cup of H2O right now!) keeps our cells happy and our energy levels optimized. Water also supports healthy digestion by helping to soften and move material through our GI tracts.
Still, sometimes we all need a little extra help to get “going,” so to speak. Read on for ten foods that can help you poop.
Apples are packed with soluble fiber, but eat them with the skin on and you’ll get a hit of insoluble fiber, too. Pair an apple with a couple spoonfuls of almond butter for even more nutrients and longer-lasting fullness. Bonus points if you’re able to opt for organic—conventional apples are among the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of pesticide residue.
Whole grains in general are a great source of fiber and brown rice is no exception. Whereas white rice has its outer bran layer removed, brown rice remains intact and therefore serves up more fiber. For a complete breakdown of how the two stack up nutritionally, check out our guide to white versus brown rice.
If you’re struggling with constipation, beans (and other legumes like lentils) can bring on BMs thanks to their high fiber content. Just ½ cup of black beans puts 7 grams of fiber on your plate.
Heads up: beans can bring on bloat and gas in some susceptible individuals. Why? Not only are they packed with fiber, but they also contain a certain type of carbohydrate, called raffinose, that can be hard to break down in the body. As a result, some people experience GI discomfort after eating them. Start by incorporating small amounts of beans in your diet, then scale up depending on your tolerance.
Have you ever noticed chia seeds plump up when submerged in liquid (think: chia pudding)? The soluble fiber-rich seeds essentially do the same thing in your gut, meaning they expand and help keep you stay full for longer. Added bonus: they’re one of the only plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens are loaded with insoluble fiber that can add bulk in the GI tract, promoting proper elimination and leading you to the ladies room.
There’s a reason we’re nuts for nuts. They’re full of heart-healthy fats, plant protein, and—you guessed it—fiber. Add chopped nuts to your yogurt bowl or throw a spoonful of your favorite nut butter into your morning smoothie. We’re all about this chocolate banana almond butter smoothie.
Fun fact: raspberries are the highest fiber fruit (apart from avocado, which, yes, is a fruit). Just one cup of raspberries delivers 8 grams of fiber. For reference: it’s recommended women get about 25 grams of fiber per day, so that’s already a third of your daily intake. BTW, blackberries are a great choice, too.
Oats are an awesome choice for gut health. They’re prebiotic (meaning they serve as fuel for the good bacteria in your gut), offer up soluble and insoluble fiber, and serve as a source of good-for-you carbs, the body’s preferred source of fuel. To kick start digestion, start your day with one of our favorite oatmeal recipes.
By now you probably know that probiotics are essential to gut health. One of our favorite sources? Yogurt. Not only does yogurt offer up good bacteria that support digestion and regularity, but it’s also high in nutrients like protein and calcium. Opt for plain yogurt to avoid excess added sugars, then jazz it up with your own toppings, like fresh fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and better-for-you granola.
Ok, so it’s not exactly a food, but drinking enough water is non-negotiable if you want to poop. Adequate H2O helps the body break down and absorb nutrients, softens stool, and keeps things moving through our system. Aim to drink at least 10 cups of water per day.